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Nokia Lumia 1020: smaller sensor camera than 808 PureView, but could capture the best images of any smartphone

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Nokia Lumia 1020: smaller sensor camera than 808 PureView, but could capture the best images of any smartphone
The Nokia Lumia 1020 is a mind-boggling smartphone that just arrived in our office and as it’s making the rounds ahead of our first in-depth look (stay tuned!), we have to clarify a few things about its most important feature - the camera.

The Lumia 1020 comes with a 41-megapixel camera and at first look - judging by the pixel count - one would think that this means the size of the sensor (the part of the camera that collects light) is the same as the one in the 41-megapixel Nokia 808 PureView. Turns out, that is not exactly true.

The Nokia Lumia 1020 actually has a very large by smartphone standards but still smaller sensor than the one in the 808 PureView. While the one on the 808 measures 1/1.2” in size, the 1020 has a 1/1.5” sensor. What this means is that you have less space and smaller pixels. Without the oversampling, the physical size of pixels on the Lumia 1020 is 1.12µm compared to the larger 1.34µm on the 808.

Lumia 1020 has a sensor (2/3) that is much larger than that of a traditional smartphone (1/3.2).

Lumia 1020 has a sensor (2/3) that is much larger than that of a traditional smartphone (1/3.2).



We have gotten a bit technical here, so let us explain what this means. Pixels are like buckets, but instead of collecting water, they collect light. The bigger the pixel the more light it collects and the more light it collects the better the images at night time and other situations where light is scarce. At first sight, that means the Lumia 1020 has a slight disadvantage when fared against its older sibling, the 808 PureView.

Let’s not jump into conclusions that quickly, though. The new Nokia Lumia 1020 has some key advantages that come with that smaller sensor. The most obvious is the physical size of the device, it’s much slimmer than the chubby 808 PureView. Next, the small size made it possible for Nokia to include optical image stabilization (OIS) that allows for longer exposure times and ultimately better video and low light shots.

Finally, this is not the same sensor as on the 808 PureView. Despite its larger sized, the 808 used front-side illumination, a more primitive camera technology where wires connecting the camera pixels with the phone got in the way of light and stopped some of it. The Lumia 1020 has a modern backside-illuminated (BSI) sensor with those wires not getting in the way, and allowing for the full lightstream to hit the pixels.

Lumia 1020 camera sensor (top right) dwarfs traditional smartphone cameras.

Lumia 1020 camera sensor (top right) dwarfs traditional smartphone cameras.

In reality, this means that despite the smaller sensor size, Nokia has made some key improvements that should yield similar if not sharper and better images on new Lumia 1020.

In conclusion, we’d like to also mention the lossless zoom capabilities of the new Nokia camera superphone. The Lumia 1020 has a zoom range of 25-69mm in SLR terms for image still and 25-100mm for 1080p video. Its f/2.2 aperture however does not drop when you go into higher zoom levels. That is one huge advantage as even the most complex DSLR lenses close the aperture and require much longer exposure times. The Lumia 1020 does not suffer from those mechanical problems.

How big of a revolution the Lumia 1020 is in smartphone photography? Stay tuned as our first in-depth look of the device is coming soon.

Images courtesy of WPCentral.

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posted on 12 Jul 2013, 03:40 22

1. Jasper (Posts: 1; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Cool stuff from Nokia, this, however, makes me feel more upset at how Sony had failed to use its advantages in various departments, including the camera poweress, in its smartphones, hope to see how 1020 stack up against honami

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 03:56 17

3. vandroid (Posts: 259; Member since: 04 Sep 2012)


I wouldn't be surprised if the Sony honami bested the lumia 1020

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:04 31

6. ChiX017 (Posts: 308; Member since: 09 Nov 2011)


Won't be surprised if the Nokia bested the Honami.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:17 25

9. xperiaDROID (limited) (Posts: 5399; Member since: 08 Mar 2013)


I wouldn't be surprised if the Sony Honami and Lumia 1020 bested the Galaxy S4 Zoom.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:55 5

47. Paradox (Posts: 123; Member since: 08 Aug 2012)


They won't best it in terms of zooming in, and that's the point of the gs4 zoom, but nobody seems to understand...

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:59 1

17. thunderising (Posts: 225; Member since: 25 Nov 2011)


LOL at that

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 11:41 2

80. Dr.Phil (Posts: 904; Member since: 14 Feb 2011)


I would like to say that, in my opinion, I think one of the reasons Sony hasn't announced the Honami device yet was because they were waiting to hear about the Lumia 1020. There was originally suppose to be an event on July 4th but that never happened. I'm guessing they postponed it possibly because they felt the need to update the device in light of the Lumia 1020.

This is all speculation, but I think it's possible.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:03 7

19. pwnarena (Posts: 872; Member since: 15 Feb 2013)


the rumored honami sensor is also 2/3 so don't expect it to outclass the 1020. as much as i like sony, they can't seem to perfect their own technology. their xperia z camera does not even compare to those used by other flagships even if they're the ones supplying the sensor.

i just hope sony changes for the better.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 06:26 7

68. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


at 20MP Honami has pixel size advantage over the Lumia 1020
About 1.7 micron (Honami) vs 1.12 micron (Lumia).
SO in low light Honami canbe better and according to rumours Sony camera division is the one who taking care Honami Camera,
i think there is big possibility Honami camera will outclass Lumia 1020.

Sony has improve Xperia Z camera with the update and the quality is compareable with other flagship camera

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 08:57 1

74. neutralguy (Posts: 1152; Member since: 30 Apr 2012)


It's not just about the sensor size. Lumia 1020 also has the second gen OIS which means, it could catch light longer without obvious blur. If honami won't have adjustable exposure and shutter speed, I'll give low light to lumia 1020 plus the xenon

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 11:17

79. yudi.nemesis (Posts: 1127; Member since: 14 Mar 2013)


There is another reason why Honami can be better than Lumia 1020.
The rumours also said Honami will have,
Handheld Twilight Mode, Xenon/LED Flash, Super SteadyShot Image Stabilization.

just remember Honami camera is developed by Sony Electronics Imaging division not by Sony Mobile.

posted on 13 Jul 2013, 23:17

89. kobainez (Posts: 302; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


The low light performance is not even that impressive. Too much grain on low light sample...

posted on 17 Jul 2013, 02:20

92. trollinger (Posts: 2; Member since: 17 Jul 2013)


To cover the same area for the photo, Lumia uses two pixels where Honami has one. Also, the optical image stabilizer should help to beat Honami in Video quality and fixed/slow moving objects in low light condition.

Regarding pixel size: Not sure if I calculated it wrong, or if the figure in the article is incorrect or if there are any other factors I didn't take into account.
Assuming x/y ratio 1.5:1 and 1/1.5", I get a sensor of 14x9.4mm² for Lumia, which gives 3.2mu^2 area per pixel (pixel widh: approx. 1.8mu)
Assuming x/y ratio 1.5:1 and 1/2.3", I get a sensor of 9.2x6.13mm² for Honami, which gives 2.8mu^2 area per pixel (pixel width: approx. 1.7mu)

Full disclosure: I'm Nokia SW engineer, so I might be biased, but if my calculations are wrong, it's an honest mistake.

posted on 17 Jul 2013, 03:08

93. trollinger (Posts: 2; Member since: 17 Jul 2013)


After reading some more of the comments, I think I know why I get other figures for Honami: I read in different sources that the Honami would have a 1/2.3" sensor (engadget, heise.de), while most people here seem to expect a 2/3" sensor. Is there a reliable source of information for this?

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:21 2

23. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


stop whining about honami. it's not even pre unit yet and you keep whining. wait until release and they will go head to head. They grumble.
Fingers crossed for Nokia, easily.

posted on 13 Jul 2013, 00:32 1

86. rgxVOiD (Posts: 433; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)


I thought everyone did the same to lumia 1020 when it was still Nokia EOS?

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:04 4

5. cdgm2509 (Posts: 30; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)


Dude I have to admit I am Sony fanboy since they were SonyEricsson.. I am using the Xperia T right now btw... I am seriously thinking about buying this phone as soon as it is released. Still I am probably going to wait for the honami, to see what it offers (though look at the fail with the T and Z in the camera dept.).. I think we're gonna have to wait and see...

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:09 8

7. _Bone_ (Posts: 2123; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


I urge you to wait for the Honami, Note III with OIS, Motorola with rumored Nikon camera and the G2. With the 1020 you'd gain an excellent camera, but give up so much on the HW and battery front that mid-day when syncing and shooting killed your battery, you wished you never changed.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 06:05 1

51. muhsen (Posts: 257; Member since: 07 Jun 2012)


u r so pathetic .....that u don't own him to get the phone for ur own android mania
and all what u have said is untrue,just check all mobile blogs (reviews and user opinions) and u will know

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 03:53 8

2. boosook (Posts: 979; Member since: 19 Nov 2012)


Lossless zoom? Marketing gimmick: just look at one of the samples at full res (and I mean the raw 41mp version, you can find it on the web, not the 5mp resized version) and you'll understand why: that's not what I call lossless.
The awesome quality of the pureview is achieved by downsampling the 41mp image which is not very sharp, but has such a great number of pixels that once resized to "normal" smartphone size (like 5mp) looks very sharp.
But when you "zoom" (which actually means that you simply reduce the level of downsampling) the quality deteriorates. At the maximum zoom level, you use the raw pixels from the 41mp image, and the quality is rather poor.
You need an optical zoom if you really want a lossless zoom, that's it.
Images are good, but Nokia is, as always, lying about something...

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:31 3

29. haseebzahid (Posts: 1826; Member since: 22 Feb 2012)


so whats your point, by your lack of techincal knowledge and these comments i guess you are not fimiliar with engeneering tricks. the end result is what matters . if we are to believe you then all engineering around the world is a failure from start. this is what We do solve the main problem by any way possible and Nokia has done that we need lossless blurfree pictures and camera capable for low light in 8Mpix picture and we have it why whould anyone care how was the picture processed if the end result is too good except haters.
if ur are so idiot use the HTC ONE wierd camera phone which always produce random pictures at night

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 09:34 1

76. shikroi (Posts: 184; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


Lossless zoom is not a marketing gimmick. Just look at the 808. The issue here is that wp is such a garbage os that it can't handle original 808's tech, and no matter how much Nokia tries to make us believe otherwise, that is the simple fact.

Look at the grain on these images compared to the 808. You have to hunt for grain on the full res 808 pics, and on the over-sampled ones, grain is absent. The 1020 is nothing more than a bad 808 knock off. I own a 920, but I am not a blind fanboy. The 1020 is mediocre.

I hope phonearena compares the 808 and 1020 to illustrate the pawnage the 808 dishes out. The 1020's shots literally look like wp's garbage, cartoony algorithms on better hardware. In essence, a polished turd.

So boosook, the tech isn't garbage, and the 808 proves that. What is garbage here is wp8's software. Wp8 can't handle an ND filter and it can't handle two dedicated scaling chips, so right off the bat there is no way this can measure up to the 808. Everyone knows the adreno 220 can't handle the 808's tech, but yet nokia have crammed it in. Well, behold the results in the form of noise, chromatic aberration, over saturation and detail smearing from noise suppressing algorithms, all problems that the 808 does not have.

If this were a linux based os, if ms were faster with their updates, if wp8 wasn't so restricted, the results might have been magical.

One look at the 808's Flikr page and you know right off the bat that the 1020 is nothing but a toy. It doesn't even have HDR or the options to adjust saturation, contrast, sharpness, frame rate(30,25,15 fps), resolutions (2,3,5,8 megapixels and 360p).

I am disappointed in Nokia to the point where I feel like selling my 920 and getting a HTC one at this point.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:02 5

4. _Bone_ (Posts: 2123; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Looking at the full-res images I notice quite a large amount of denoising followed by aggressive sharpening, full-res doesn't look quite as good as on the 808. Now if you take a 4X zoomed image, it'll be a 2,5MP cutoff of the 41MP full frame, noisy and not very satisfying.

Per pixel the Exmor RS is a better sensor, wouldn't mind them going 808 with it, which BTW is a better PureView than the 1020. When it comes to zooming, it's still best to have optical capabilities, which means you capture everything at full sensor size.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:19

10. Nathan_ingx (Posts: 3007; Member since: 07 Mar 2012)


Agree, i noticed that too.
Last night i was checking it out from my phone and it looked super, until i tried it on the PC today, zoomed in and saw specs of white particles all over, particularly on night shots.
However, the amount of light captured in the night shot is good.
Colour representation, exposure and the rest is great.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:35 2

11. FlushGordon (unregistered)


Well, nobody knows if those images were manipulated or not. But it's really HARD for me to believe that those weren't retouched. Metering is good, Color representation is good, but the question is...Are those images really came straight out of cam?
The Color temperature seems to lean on the warmer side, kinda reminds of the Sigma (a lens Maker) Color warmth.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:50 4

13. _Bone_ (Posts: 2123; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


We're only gonna find out when user samples are up for comparison, but it's not Nokia's intentions to release fake samples with a lot of noise and loss of color details (the faces on the group photo in Central Park are particularly troubled by it).

It's probably the lens that doesn't let through as much sharp detail as the one on the larger 808, the 32MP (16:9) samples weigh in around 8 megabytes which is around the file size of a detailed Galaxy S4 shot at 13 megapixels, which means during daylight the Exmor RS comes close capturing as much detail at much lower resolution.

The RS could've wiped the floor with the PureView but they couldn't get the RGBW processing ready in time, hence the average to bad low-light performance. Hope the Honami has the RGBW version.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:54 3

15. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


keep whining....sony's the best blabla..I didn't see their best in a direct comparison any sony's handset with exmor or rs vs n8 or 808. Magic?

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:09 6

20. _Bone_ (Posts: 2123; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


How very intelligent of you haha.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:23 2

25. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


replying to yourself? another paranoic?

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:53

14. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


you have must hit hard in the head saying such a cr$%....Christ..I can understand one's love toward sony but.....this is pathetic.

posted on 13 Jul 2013, 23:03

88. kobainez (Posts: 302; Member since: 13 Apr 2012)


Your love for nokia is even more pathetic. Keep praising that nokia is the king of smartphone camera when honami wasn't even release

posted on 14 Jul 2013, 06:06

90. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


pathetic? you're a stupid mushroom who deeply believes that sony was better so far. Exmor r better? When and where? Did it outperform N8 or 808? The answer is simple. NO. so wtf are you giving me this crap about exmor superiority. You haven't got a single argument to support your babbling. Nokia was the king of (camera)smartphone, is and probably will be in the nearest future. If sony raises to the challenge, great. But up to now, they haven't so shut your hole if you have nothing interesting to say, kiddo.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 06:12

58. muhsen (Posts: 257; Member since: 07 Jun 2012)


exmor rs lens r better ????!! u r must be joking...that's why xperia z has one of the worst cam on the market
criticising the 1020 compared to 808 is justifiable but bringing a lens that is used on phone that can hardly match any other phone in terms of photography is very unjustifiable

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 09:35

77. shikroi (Posts: 184; Member since: 24 Sep 2012)


It's not because of the sensor, or tech (the 808 has no noise), the issue here is wp's camera stack.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:13

8. abcdefgh (banned) (Posts: 471; Member since: 29 Mar 2013)


yeah.time to throw(sell) my DSLR

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 04:42

12. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


it should shut everyone's hole who grumble about sony's sensors

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:12 11

21. _Bone_ (Posts: 2123; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Sony has better per pixel performance.

www.google.com -> there you can educate yourself what per pixel performance means.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:24 3

26. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


so explain me genius, why oh why sony hasn't been able to beat Nokia so far????
with this exmor r magic?

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:34 5

31. _Bone_ (Posts: 2123; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


I reckon you didn't google per pixel performance. :D

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:38 2

37. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


you don';t get one thing...maybe you're too limited, probably you are.
Why sony has beeen behind Nokia in camera dept?
Stop giving me this crap about pixel performance. In real life, it's way behind and your whining won't change it.

posted on 13 Jul 2013, 00:30 1

85. rgxVOiD (Posts: 433; Member since: 30 Aug 2012)


Why? Because their camera wasn't made by their camera division. It's made by their mobile division. For honami, it will be the camera division.

posted on 13 Jul 2013, 12:43

87. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


znd that´s the reason dear watson why I dare to claim that sony has been chasing Nokia and never caught up. I don´t give a rat´s ass what division they used or will use. If they have to use their photo dept to try dethronize Nokia it tells everything. And they will maybe, just maybe, get close but will see when they release their device

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 06:02 1

48. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


and you still don´t get it. Maybe your andro friend will help you. It sold better because it was on android not because it has a better camera, because it didn´t, and the main subject of this discussion is camera capabilities. I don´t care about your pixel babbling. The truh is, painful for you obviously, sony has been behind Nokia. Don´t give me that mambo jambo they weren´t ready and could have wiped the floor with 808. They weren´t ready, they didn´t. End of topic. Theories are funny but far away from reality.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 05:36 2

34. Cod3rror (Posts: 60; Member since: 06 Apr 2013)


Judging from the samples so far, 1020 does not look impressive. 808's pictures were smoother and had much less grain and noise. 1020's images look like 920 and have that oil painting look to them.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 06:15

61. itsdeepak4u2000 (Posts: 2586; Member since: 03 Nov 2012)


Tell Samsung, how to make a Smartphone with small sensors.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 06:20

65. _Bone_ (Posts: 2123; Member since: 29 Oct 2012)


Galaxy S4, heard of it?

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 06:24 3

67. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


oh, now s4 on the table. Where´s your precious zoom? Maybe it´s too big for your sissy hands?

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 09:06 3

75. sw9056 (Posts: 9; Member since: 26 Dec 2012)


WOW ! all I read is all the android fans down grading this smartphone for the: OS
I happen to have a gs3 for metro-pcs/T-Mobile and I got it for work to use the music player I teach fitness classes and I must say I hate it :-(
it lags , slow , locks up , I am giving it to my wife
I need a smartphone that works and is reliable. I don't care about: games & customization that's for kids who can't keep there hands still. all they want to do is play with there smartphones.
I had all the cellphone companies: Verizon , sprint , at&t they are all over price and have there problems. that's why I am with: TMUS now they are the cheapest I am not a doctor or in the emergency service field so I don't need to be on call 24hrs 7 days a week so please save your money people wake up.
as far as apps go it will take time but WP & NOKIA will get us there :-)
REMEMBER KIDS IT'S A SMARTPHONE NOT A "TOYPHONE"
I must say " SMARTPHONES FOR SMARTPEOPLE "
AGAIN ! games & customization that's for kids who can't keep there hands still. all they want to do is play with there smartphones.
IF YOU ROOT OR FLASH YOUR SMARTPHONE TO MAKE IT WORK BETTER/FASTER THEN WHAT'S THE POINT. YOUR SMARTPHONE HAS LOTS OF FLAWS :-(
A SMARTPHONE IS FOR: 1. PHONE 2. PRODUCTIVITY 3. WORK 4. SOCIALIZING NOT A
"TOYPHONE"
GREAT JOB WP& NOKIA :-) KEEP IT UP

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 10:24 4

78. papss (unregistered)


There is so many ridiculous comments that flood this website.. It seems all coming from that garbage site gmarena.. Lets put your s4 or any other current phone and we will see who is the winner... Lets speak about the gimmicks that SS puts on there phones? Or how terrible the low light is on any of them or better yet lets speak about that garbage zoom? Shall we look at the others and laugh at how pathetic the S4 is for not having real ois or the fact that they (all spamdoid) don't have a dedicated camera button and you have to touch the damn screen to tame the actual shot? Have you blown a photo up with your pictures taken on you sh!ty creaky pos to see how terrible they look? Lets all look at the lag that SS has with a modern s600? Talk about over priced

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 11:41

81. DontHateOnS60 (Posts: 849; Member since: 20 Apr 2009)


I'm really concerned about color accuracy and over-sharpening with the photos in this phone. The 808 nailed both of those perfectly to my liking, yet all I've seen from Nokia as of late has been over sharpened photos and overblown colors. The other brilliant thing about the 808 was saturation control as well as a Normal and Vivid color setting within the Creative Mode. The 1020 may have the more user friendly UI, but the 808 trumps it with settings.

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 12:23

82. Bootutu (Posts: 184; Member since: 11 Jul 2013)


Put this phone against the GS4 i9500 with Sony Exmor RS sensor, it will put this gimmick 41mp to shame and use auto night detection if you want low light images, hahahaha nokia this camera will not take you anywhere and the pricing, pffft! maybe sell 5000 units lol

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 18:47 2

84. jackhammeR (Posts: 1548; Member since: 17 Oct 2011)


you want to compare sg4 and exmor rs to 808 or even n8 ???
You were born yesterday?????????
kid....you earned for the title "moro% of the month"

posted on 12 Jul 2013, 16:26 1

83. Dastrix (Posts: 587; Member since: 23 Nov 2012)


The beast is back!! Or should I say.. Beauty is back! xD

posted on 14 Jul 2013, 14:05

91. midi1996 (Posts: 2; Member since: 14 Jul 2013)


Why do people argue w/ a phone camera? A phone is phone, it has its own components, that means that if you want a superphone w/ a super camera you must have a pebble in you poket (it means you will have a geant phone). nokia done a great job so far w/ this product (a hi-res camera w/ some good options + a "slim" phone)! But it lakes some features (yeah! zooming w/out deterioring the image quality is the most-wanted feature)! If you see the GS4 Zoom it hase this capability but w/ a "low res" image (comparing to this lumia) and samsung did a great job too! But my concusion is if you want a good camera and a great phone, choose a smartphone and buy you a professional camera, phone cameras will (probably) never replace what a normal camera does! We need photos to keep some memories not to see if there are hi-res w/ some extra super features! (don't forget the Galaxy NX camera!) :) :D Have a nice day!
And if we combined the S4 Zoom and this lumia there will be an ultraphone!

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